An ACCHS/AMS is a primary health care service initiated and operated by the local Aboriginal community to deliver holistic, comprehensive, and culturally appropriate health care to the community which controls it (through a locally elected Board of Management) . There are a number of ACCHS/AMSs around Western Australia, each one offering a different geographical and cultural experience. There is a continuum from large multi-GP urban centres to very small remote fly-in-fly-out community clinics. All utilize a team model, with Aboriginal Health Workers, general pracitioners and nurses playing major roles in the delivery of healthcare services. ACCHS/AMSs are well-supported by visiting specialists and allied health workers and almost all are fully accredited to GP training standards. Many ACCH/AMSs provide training placements for medical students and GP registrars. There are a number of sources of information:
Some private general practices have a particular focus on Aboriginal Health – often where the practice population includes a high proportion of Aboriginal patients and where one of the GPs has had previous experience in ACCHS/AMSs. Some practices have close links with Aboriginal community organisations in their area and GPs provide clinics with the assistance of Aboriginal health workers.
WACHS is an important provider of services for Aboriginal people (who make up 13.2% of the total population in rural and remote Western Australia). There are opportunities for GPs with an interest in Aboriginal Health throughout the state, particularly in the Kimberley and Goldfields. Positions are generally linked to small hospitals and, in some regions, include outreach to surrounding communities. The work is especially suited to GPs with extensive primary health care knowledge, skills and significant experience in emergency care. The scope of practice for WACHS GPs is very wide and may include obstetrics and anaesthetics. Current job opportunities can be found on the WACHS website.
There are a number of additional agencies which provide GP services to Aboriginal people and communities. These include the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and the mobile services in Perth such as the Street Doctors.
Working as a GP, you will have the opportunity to build relationships with your patients and make a real difference in their lives. There is currently a shortage of GPs in country WA, with State and Federal Governments working on a number of initiatives to combat this. One example of this is the creation of new training hubs in regional towns for medical students to complete their training in a country location. Working in the country gives you the chance to practise varied and challenging work, broaden your professional skills, specialise and combine other forms of medicine with GP, provide continuity of care to patients and earn a highly competitive salary. The lifestyle benefits include no commute, a healthy work-life balance, being part of a close-knit regional community and having WA’s amazing natural attractions right at your doorstep. WAGPET delivers the AGPT program in Western Australia and offers registrars the opportunity to complete training at quality-accredited training facilities across WA. For more information about training in WA, please visit the WAGPET website. If you are interested in working as GP in country WA, Rural Health West have a range of vacancies in primary healthcare and can provide a personalised service to find a role that suits your needs.
From the Mediterranean climate in the south to the warm and tropical conditions of the north, WA has some of the most diverse weather in Australia. Those based in the north enjoy sunny skies and high temperatures of approximately 28 ºC to 35 ºC from May to October (known as the dry season); perfect for going to the beach or visiting one of our many national parks. From November to April (the wet season), the north experiences hot and humid weather with heavy rainfalls common in the late afternoon. The climate in the mid and south of the state (including Perth) follow a Mediterranean seasonal cycle, where summer temperatures in January can reach the high, dry 30s or 40s and winter minimum temperatures can drop below 5 ºC, while the day time temperature will be around 17 ºC. Snow is very rare in WA.
Living in WA offers a range of lifestyles and opportunities. WA is the largest state in the country, and has a population of around 2.5 million people. Most of the population lives in the capital city of Perth, however close to 1 million are scattered across rural WA. Perth WA’s capital city, Perth, is considered one of the most livable cities in the world, with its relaxed pace of life and abundance of activities, restaurants, cafes and public parks. The beaches are a popular attraction with locals during the warmer seasons; the bright blue water is ideal for swimming, snorkelling and surfing. Regional WA There are nine areas in WA which are considered to be regional; Gascoyne, Goldfields-Esperance, Kimberley, Pilbara, Midwest, South West, Great Southern, Peel and Wheatbelt. Most regional towns are dotted along the coastline or in the agricultural zone east of Perth. Our more remote communities are located in our northern deserts. Regional WA is full of vibrant and active communities with supermarkets, restaurants, shops and cafes. Facilities such as post, banking and police are also located in all rural and most remote towns. These communities are known to be very warm, welcoming and friendly.    
Don’t let the ‘general’ in ‘general practitioner’ fool you. GPs are specialists. Like all medical specialists, to be a GP takes an extended period of specialised training. To practice independently as a GP in Australia, you need to achieve a fellowship in general practice training. Otherwise known as a vocational GP, you won't just be specialising in one or two areas, you specialise in them all. This allows you to see a true variety of medicine throughout your career. GPs are often the first port of call, an invaluable service within the community. This means anything can walk through your door and the variety and scope of medicine you will encounter will be equally rewarding and challenging.  
Specialities within GP can be explored at any point during your GP training and career. There are many specialities areas of medicine that go hand in hand with GP, especially in rural and remote areas. Speciality ares that you can combine with GP include:
  • Aboriginal health
  • anaesthetics
  • paediatrics and adolescent health
  • psychology and mental health
  • small town general practice and Royal Flying Doctor Service
  • surgery
  • emergency medicine
  • medical administration
  • women’s health services, obstetrics and family planning
  • occupational health
  • palliative care
  • drug and alcohol
  • sports medicine
  • travel medicine.
General practice is a diverse profession and Western Australia is a diverse state. Undertaking GP training in WA offers you a unique experience of learning from excellent and experienced practising GPs in the beautiful west part of Australia. In your training, you will have the opportunity to work and live in many different parts of the state, from the vibrant city of Perth, the lush, winery regions in the south, or the red dirt, hot weather and adventure-focused communities in the north. You can mould your practice to suit your professional, personal and family needs. There are opportunities to practise independently in a variety of urban and rural areas from admitting your own patients to the local hospital in a rural town to working in a corporate practice in Perth. You can train and develop advanced skills, such as obstetrics and anaesthetics. The ability to practise as a GP obstetrician or anaesthetist is available in urban areas as well as rural areas of WA.
There are a range of programs and grants that provide you with the opportunity to have a rural experience. Rural Health West also facilitates vocational experiences. Email choosecountry@ruralhealthwest.com.au to enquire directly about these experiences. You can also join the Student Rural Health Club SPINRPHEX for free. (Link to NRHSN)
There are a range of online CPD courses provided by both the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. Rural Health West also facilitates a wide variety of workshops that are provided in both rural and metropolitan locations. If you are a rurally practising registrar or GP, Rural Health West will also pay for you to travel to Perth to attend one of their Perth based conferences. (WA Country Service also facilitates learning opportunity through its regional hospitals?)
Rural Health West can provide you with details of locum vacancies in rural Western Australia. (I think the AMA can also assist with providing locums). Generally you are required to be vocationally registered to perform a GP locum service.
Yes, GP registrars and GPs who decide to practice rurally are able to receive relocation grants and additional income through Medicare as part of the General Practice Rural Incentives Program (GPRIP). You can find out more through the Rural Health West website